Reduce Your Toxic Load
By Joanne Aponte, ND • April 17, 2019
There is no question, in today’s modern world, our bodies are exposed to many unnatural and potentially toxic compounds. This does not mean we are all doomed. Our body is remarkable and is designed to detoxify and rid itself of most of these potential toxins. The problem occurs when the body is exposed to too many chemicals. Then your body’s natural detox systems cannot keep up with the load.
Think of your body as a bucket, as it fills up with water (toxins) this bucket becomes heavy and a burden to carry. As the bucket fills up with water, you start to feel unwell – perhaps more fatigue, increased feelings of stress and more aches and pains. Once the water reaches the top it begins to overflow – this is when your body starts to express symptoms of an underlying health issue such as an auto-immune disease, fibromyalgia, infertility or other chronic disease.
There are toxins everywhere! From the food we eat, products we use on our skin and in our home to the air we breathe. We all are exposed to unhealthy chemicals. I know this sounds scary, but remember, most of the toxins in the environment are dealt with successfully by the body’s detoxification systems. Our liver, kidneys, lungs and digestive tract get rid of a ton of waste very efficiently every day! The problem occurs when the toxin burden gets too high. The body just can’t keep up and your bucket overflows.
Many substances and modern chemicals in our environment are burdens on our body and contribute to many chronic diseases. The goal is to keep our buckets from filling up with too many toxins. The main thing is prevention by living in a cleaner and healthier environment. Remember, it is virtually impossible to avoid ALL chemicals. All you need to do is reduce exposure whenever possible. Your body’s detox systems will deal with the chemicals that you can’t avoid.
Below are some ways you can reduce your toxic burden. If you are new to this and starting at the beginning, just change 1 thing at a time. Change 1-3 items each month. By the end of the year, you will be well on your way to living cleaner and healthier!
EAT CLEAN FOOD
- Buy organic fruits and vegetables that are on the “Dirty Dozen” List. Available here: https://www.ewg.org/foodnews/. The foods on the dirty dozen list are most heavily sprayed with chemicals and pesticides.
- Clean non-organic produce thoroughly (white vinegar and water works well)
- Buy organic, hormone-free and antibiotic-free meats and dairy products.
- Buy fresh or frozen foods and avoid canned foods.
- Eat wild fish low in mercury such as wild salmon, blue crab, flounder, haddock, pollock, trout, anchovies, sardines, cod, mackerel, perch, oysters, scallop, tilapia, shrimp, sole.
- Buy in bulk to decrease plastic packaging and store items in glass.
- Carry groceries in cloth bags and reuse them instead of plastic bags (better for the environment too!!).
- Read labels – choose products with short ingredient lists and with words you can pronounce. The longer the list and the longer the words, the more likely there is something in it that is not good for you.
- Buy non-GMO foods.
- Avoid food colorings (i.e. red dye 40) and chemicals in your food- if you can’t pronounce the words, looks for something else.
- Avoid plastics that are marked 3 (PVC or vinyl), 6 (polystyrene foam) or 7 (may contain BPA). Choose the safer plastics marked as 1, 2, 4, 5.
- Do not microwave food in plastic containers. Ideally store food in glass, ceramic, wood or stainless steel instead of plastic.
- Avoid non-stick and Teflon pots and pans. Choose stainless steel, cast iron and ceramic pots and pans for cooking.
DRINK CLEAN WATER
- Drink water out of glass or stainless steel container rather than plastic. If using plastic always choose BPA free.
- Filter your own water rather than drink filtered water out of plastic jugs or bottles.
- Get a water filter for your home such as a carbon filter or RO system.
- Choose one that is NSF certified. Visit the National Drinking Database at https://www.ewg.org/tapwater/
- Check out the EWG’s water filter guide to choose the filter that is right for you and your budget. https://www.ewg.org/tapwater/water-filter-guide.php
BREATHE CLEAN AIR
- Use a home HEPA air filter to clean the air in your house. Air purifiers such as IQ air and Blue Air are good options (this is especially important if you have allergies).
- Open the windows frequently to air out the house (even in the winter!!).
- Avoid air fresheners and products with perfumes.
- Filter the air in your house with plants that clean the air – Gerbera daisies, Chrysanthemums, English ivy, spider plants, Bamboo, Boston fern, Peace lily, Philodendron, Pot Mum, Ficus.
LIVE IN A CLEAN HOME
- Be a smart buyer – read packing and look for words like nontoxic, biodegradable, chlorine free, phosphate free, fragrance free and no dyes.
- Remove your shoes when you enter the home.
- Replace furnace filters every 3 months (with the change of seasons).
- Use earth friendly, fragrance-free, simple laundry detergents, cleaners and soaps that have less chemicals. Brands such as Seventh Generation, Shaklee, and Green Works are good choices. Everyday products like baking soda and vinegar are great for cleaning and are safe.
- Reframe what looks beautiful and avoid herbicides and pesticides on your lawn and garden. Use organic lawn care products when needed.
- Use natural pest control instead of insecticides.
- Use a “green” non-toxic dry cleaner or air out dry cleaning for 48 hours before bringing it into the home.
- NO new carpet, paints, pressboard furniture etc. if you are pregnant, have small children in the home or when doing a cleanse.
- Open the windows and air out the house whenever possible.
- Dust and vacuum frequently.
USE CLEAN PERSONAL CARE PRODUCTS
One at a time, start replacing your body care and personal care products (shampoo, make up, lotion, deodorant, etc) with clean toxin free products.
Visit https://www.ewg.org/skindeep/ and download their safe products guide to look up individual products.
Get the Think Dirty-Shop Clean App for your phone. https://www.thinkdirtyapp.com/
- Avoid the use of fragrances and perfumes. Remember unscented does not mean fragrance free. Buy Fragrance Free.
- Avoid nail polishes with formaldehyde, toluene and phthalates. If pregnant – skip the nail polish.
- Avoid certain hair treatments (like Brazilian blowouts), perms, permanent hair dyes and choose natural hair coloring products.
- Wash your new clothes before wearing them (clothes are sprayed with chemicals and perfumes!).
- Key chemicals to avoid in your body care products: parabens, phthalates, PEG, polyethylene, Ceteareth, Imidazolidinyl urea, Diazolidinyl urea, DMDM hydantoin, triclocarban (bar soap), triclosan (liquid soap, toothpaste), Retinyl palmitate and retinol (facial moisturizers, sunscreens).
- Use natural sunscreens – avoid SPF above 50, Oxybenzone or retinyl palmitate. Check out the EWG Sunscreen Database. http://www.ewg.org/2010sunscreen/
- Choose natural essential oil based insect repellents.
Key Chemicals to avoid in your personal care products, packaging and foods.
- Body products: PEG, polyethylene, Ceteareth, Imidazolidinyl urea, Diazolidinyl urea, DMDM hydantoin, Triclocarban, triclosan, Retinyl palmitate and retinol
- Synthetic dyes in foods – Yellow 5, Red 40 etc
- BHA, BHT (used in packaged foods and cereals)
- BPA – in plastics and canned foods lined with plastic.
- Keep your cell phones and electronics off your body and put on airplane mode if you don’t need them.
- Keep your cell phones, computers and iPads out of your bedroom. If you phone must be in your room, put it on airplane mode.
- Turn off your wireless router at night (we have ours on a timer).
- Take electronic breaks every day, a time when you stay off your phone, computers and iPads. Read a book, go for a walk in nature (bare feet even better!), use pencil and paper, use a regular old telephone!
Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen Foods: https://www.ewg.org/tapwater/water-filter-guide.php
EWG Sunscreen Database: http://www.ewg.org/2010sunscreen/
EWG Cosmetic and body care database: https://www.ewg.org/skindeep/
Think Dirty-Shop clean App for your phone: https://www.thinkdirtyapp.com/
Water filters: https://www.ewg.org/tapwater/
For Further Reading:
The Autoimmune Solution by Amy Meyers – Chapter 6 “Tame the Toxins”
Editor’s Note: The information in this article is intended for your educational use only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health practitioners with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition and before undertaking any diet, supplement, fitness, or other health program.